Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure

What is PFO Closure?

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure is a procedure aimed at treating a congenital heart defect called patent foramen ovale. A PFO is a small hole between the upper chambers of the heart that fails to close after birth. PFO closure involves sealing this hole to prevent abnormal blood flow between the chambers.

Before undergoing PFO closure, your healthcare team will provide detailed instructions on preparation for the procedure. This may include fasting and discontinuing certain medications. The procedure is typically performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) under local anesthesia.

During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the groin, and guided to the heart. Using imaging techniques such as echocardiography or fluoroscopy, the cardiologist places a closure device over the PFO, sealing it shut. The procedure usually takes about one to two hours.

While PFO closure is generally safe, there are potential risks, including:

  1. Bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site
  2. Infection
  3. Damage to blood vessels or surrounding structures
  4. Allergic reactions to medications or contrast dye
  5. Rarely, more serious complications such as stroke or heart rhythm disturbances


Your healthcare team will take precautions to minimize these risks and promptly address any complications that may arise.

PFO closure is performed for several reasons, including:

  1. Prevention of stroke: PFO closure reduces the risk of recurrent strokes in patients who have had a cryptogenic stroke (a stroke of unknown cause) and are found to have a PFO.
  2. Migraine treatment: Some studies suggest that PFO closure may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines in certain patients who have not responded to other treatments.
  3. Prevention of decompression sickness: In rare cases, PFO closure may be recommended for individuals at risk of decompression sickness, such as divers.

After PFO closure, you will be monitored in a recovery area for a period of time to ensure your stability. You may experience some discomfort at the catheter insertion site, but this is typically temporary. Your healthcare provider will provide instructions on post-procedure care, including any restrictions on physical activity and monitoring for signs of complications. It’s important to attend follow-up appointments to review the results of the procedure and discuss long-term management.